Coming soon to the high seas: the SeaOrbiter, a massive vessel that French architect and oceanographer Jacques Rougerie hopes to sail around the world 24/7 in constant search of new life forms and lost civilizations.
This week, about a decade after its conception, Rougerie's craft secured the final 30 per cent of its roughly $52-million cost from the French crowdfunding site KissKissBankBank (the rest of the funding comes from private sources).
So what is this thing, really? It's going to be 58-metres tall, more than half of which will sit below the surface of the water. It will be wind- and solar-powered, so it'll glide silently through the water without pumping out greenhouse gases. It will have room for 22 permanent residents. And its purpose will be scientific exploration: there will be an on-board laboratory, an autonomous underwater drone, a space simulator, and a colony of sub-aquatic bees for gathering data (just what kind of data, exactly, is unclear).
Rougerie and his team plan on starting construction in the spring, and once it's finished, the SeaOrbiter will spend its first year circling the Mediterranean, mapping uncharted portions of the ocean floor.
Of course, Rougerie isn't the first eccentric scientist to be deeply passionate about the ocean. Can't say he wasn't warned: